This talk examines efforts to construct plant medicine as a secular medical field in contemporary Ghana. Herbal medicine has long been the object of projects to both valorize indigenous knowledge and subject it to scientific inquiry. The construction of herbal medicine as a secular field is shaped by the particular religious context of Ghana, where traditional religion is often interpreted through a Christian hermeneutics of evil. Droney takes this as an opportunity to revisit the analytical concept of boundary-work, or practices that distinguish science from other social domains. Within postcolonial science studies, boundary-work is often interpreted as a means for the consolidation of authority by elites through the denigration of lay or indigenous knowledge, or treated as an opportunity to deconstruct modernist cultural categories. In contrast, Droney interprets boundary-work as a meaning-making strategy meant to support fragile visions of postcolonial life.
The Comparing Practices of Knowledge Workshop launched in the 2016-17 academic year. Presentations range across historical and disciplinary boundaries and provide a major component of SIFK's inquiry into the process of knowledge formation and transmittal from antiquity to present day. Research-in-progress is welcomed and will receive constructive feedback. Lunch will be provided to those who RSVP.